Editor’s Note: Our 4-legged furry friends do so much for our health, so we must do everything we can to keep them fit, healthy and grounded.
Animals now have many similar ailments as humans, such as obesity (according to the Association for Pet Obesity, an estimated 54% of dogs and cats were classified by their veterinarians as obese in 2014), high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, anxiety and more.
Colleen Demling offers some expert tips for keeping your furry friend healthy. Guess what—some ideas you’ll even be able to do together!
BY COLLEEN DEMLING
As a dog owner, the owner of a dog training company, and someone who is very focused on health and fitness, I know that the cost of taking care of your fury friend can be high, but much of that is often for emergency care.
I also know that research is constantly revealing ways animals can boost immunity, lower blood pressure, ease stress, and more for humans.
Just as with humans, focus on wellness and prevention. Here are some tips for keeping your furry friend (and maybe you, too) healthy and fit.
- Talk To Your Veterinarian
While most dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day, just like us, no one form of workout is right for every dog so talk to your veterinarian before starting their exercise regimen. Make sure your vet educates you on the signs of exhaustion or overheating. If your pooch pants excessively or hyperventilates, if his tongue and gums turn brick red, or if he can’t keep up and stands or lies listlessly, stop exercising and seek immediate veterinary care. These may be signs of a heat stroke, which is potentially fatal.
- Doggie Paddle With Your Pooch
Not only is swimming fun and a great work out for both of you, its great for dogs with arthritis as well as dogs with short noses that are not efficient for breathing. Taking a dip in the cool water can help overcome heat exhaustion that’s caused by exertion.
- Interval Walking and Jogging
Dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes per week, whereas people without dogs walk about 168 minutes. Take longer walks a day and if your dog is healthy enough, try adding a few sprints in between to boost their metabolism as well yours.
- Playing Fetch For Your Abs
Tone your tummy while your dog sprints for his favorite fetch toy. Sit on the floor and, as you hold the toy in your hand. come up for a crunch and pretend to throw. Alternate between throwing and faking it and you’ll get a good abdominal workout while your pup works its cardio.
- Obstacle Course
Creating an obstacle course is great agility and circuit training for both you and your companion. For yourself, set up specific stations like jump rope, hula-hoop, kettle bells, etc. For your dog, set up stations like hurdles, mazes, and sprints. There are several companies that even specialize in working out with your dog including www.leashyourfitenss.com and www.k9fitclub.com.
Just like us, it’s as important to keep mind agile as it is the body. Train your dog to think by teaching them to hunt or play hide and seek with their favorite toys or treats.
As hard as it may be to resist those big puppy eyes when they beg, it’s imperative to not feed your dog human food as it can take years off their life. Small, low-activity dogs need only about 185 to 370 calories daily, while a large pooch between 67 to 88 pounds may need between 1,000 to 2,000 calories, depending on activity level and gender. Yet many of our dogs get far more food than they need. More than one-third of U.S. dogs over 1 year old are overweight. Consult with your veterinarian about your pets diet and what treats are right for them.
ABOUT COLLEEN DEMLING
Colleen Demling, CPDT, CBCC owns, www.pawtopia.com, one of the most successful dog training companies in San Diego. She has been featured numerous times on local and national TV and Radio.
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